On Wednesday a couple was brought before a federal magistrate where they were charged with bank fraud and money laundering. An indictment accuses Baldeo and Kamla Sahabir of taking part in fraud relating to a case where more than $3.5 million in unclaimed funds were stolen from Manhattan Bank. The couple is accused of funneling more than $2.4 million through a Hindu temple bank. They are from Schenectady and both of them have strong ties to a Hindu temple known as American Seva International which is located on Page Street in Schenectady. The State Police and the U.S. Secret Service worked together for several years investigating this scheme where they were able to unravel ten counts of bank fraud and money laundering.
According to records, this particular couple deals with real estate where Kamla Sahabir is an agent with Prudential Manor Homes. This particular real estate company has been active in the community where it has worked in several projects including bringing Guyanese immigrants from downstate. In fact, the mayor backed her for a city commission seat in 2005 which shows that she is a prominent person in the community, especially when it comes to dealing with real estate.
This indictment is related to the arrest of a former Bank of New York in Manhattan employee who is known as Lal B. Singh. On his arrest in August 2007, he was charged on several charges including conspiracy to commit fraud. He pled guilty to the charges in December last year and has cooperated with the investigations of the government. During his time as a manager at the Bank of New York, he oversaw unclaimed funds which were related to bond holders who did not cash securities. According to the state law, the unclaimed funds must be sent to the state comptroller after three years. But court records show that Singh created phony payouts to accomplices. He was able to do this because he had access to a database of unclaimed funds.
Singh used his position at the bank to start making wire transfer requests from the accounts of the unclaimed funds to the accounts of individuals who he was connected to including Baldeo and Kamla Sahabir. This started in 1996 and by 2007 he had caused about $3.6 million of unclaimed funds to be transferred to accounts of his associates from the Bank of New York. This is according to an affidavit by a special agent from the U.S. Secret Service.
Details show that even Singh got a portion of the money transferred. The records show that an account owned by the nonprofit Hindu group connected to Baldeo and Kamla received $2.46 million of the money transferred. Between July 2003 and May 2007, Singh used 286 wire transfers to funnel the money into the Hindu group’s account. According to records from Singh’s case, $191,200 was transferred to him in the form of checks that were cashed at the Rotterdam branch of Bank of America. The records further show that the used checks listed the name Lal Singh in the memo line. There was also another $334,900 in the form of checks which were written to an individual that was not identified. This person who was not identified sold property in Queens to Singh for $425,000. Further $288,400 in the form of checks which were written to Singh’s wife were deposited into an account in New York Community Bank. After the initial listening to this indictment Baldeo and Kamla Sahabir were released on $500,000 bond each.